So your view, essentially, is that the government should decide how much we all deserve and should be allowed to live on, in the interest of keeping things "fair"? And those who do better are somehow doing something "wrong" and deserve to be punished? Hmm... reminds me of communism and why my parents left Russia.
There's currently a discounted tax rate on capital gains for two good reasons:
1) It encourages re-investment which creates American jobs and American growth - something we sorely need in this recovery.
2) Capital gains are generally not people's primary income, and in cases where it is it is treated as regular income and taxed at higher rates already.
I realize with Occupy and everything else it's popular to hate the rich, and agree with you that most people are simply jealous (you will never become that which you hate). And Obama's just doing his best to be populist and win the vote. But the true "1%" are the corporations, many of which pay an effective rate of 0%.
Incidentally, I'm all for tax breaks for giving to charities - study after study confirms that NGOs are more effective at getting things done than governments are. So these rich Brits are contributing to society, argueably in a more effective way. What's wrong with giving people a "vote"? Plus they tend to spend money, which does contibute to the economy. So what's the problem?
Roads and schools are funded by property taxes, government and infrastructure by sales taxes (which I'm all for increasing on the rich, if they have money to spend) but income tax simply pays the Federal Reserve (a privately-held, for-profit corporation) for the priviledge of using the money that it prints in your transactions. I'm not convinced that transferring more wealth away from potential philanthropists and investors and into the hands of the Rothschilds or their puppets in government necessarily contributes to society.
Excellent post, and excellent points, Peter. (I especially like what you said about looking at issues as we do our trades, as unbiased as possible until you start to collect the facts.)
I think there's nothing wrong in your getting some deductions, that same elected government decided to allow those deductions for a reason, in order to stimulate certain behaviors (such as reduced taxation on capital gains to promote re-investment). You still paid in plenty despite them, and most do.
Those who hide their money abroad won't be affected much by the Buffet Rule, I suspect, as it is a mandatory 30% of amounts over $1M, and in the US we are taxed on declared income. There will always be loopholes and ways to dodge - I am not naive enough to overlook those who ultimately vote the laws into being and their track record on serving their own self-interests.In the end (both you and I) are talking about paying their "fair" share. But I think a flat, mandatory 30% tax on all amounts over $1M overlooks too many variables. I mentioned reinvestment, and capital gains typically not being the primary income (and taxed higher when they are). What about someone with a court ruling against them, or something like child support? They have less left over to "play" than someone earning the same exact amount but without those obligations. Just an example. Caring for an elderly parent? Our healthcare coverage here stinks compared to what you guys have in the UK. Amounts given to important causes, as we discussed, is another good one. Certainly people should be incentivised to do good, if they have the means to do so.
That's why I like sales tax - you pay based on your ability to spend (implying left over money), rather than strictly what is coming in, as everyone's situation is different. I don't like "flat" or "mandatory" anything, as it assumes everyone is in the same situation, and implies no exceptions. We're hovering dangerously close racial or religious persecutions of the past. Not sure if there's such a thing as wealthism ("sharpen the guillotine, François!"), but its another reason to think "us and them", divide people based on superficial things, not digging deeper.
I love your comments on the media, and agree wholeheartedly. I haven't heard one argument against the Buffet Rule. I'm not some uber-rich, tax-hating, anti-society self-serving, cash-hoarding pig, but I do see some issues with the proposed rule. I brought up a few here.
Ultimately, I will live by the rules the majority decides to adopt, sure, but let's at least have a balanced discussion of the pros and cons, make an informed decision (asking a lot, I know). Just like you and I are, but in the mainstream media. Feels like everyone is jumping on the post-Occupy populist anti-1% bandwagon, and not looking at all the facts. Us and them, fight or flight.
Incidentally, after I first wrote this post ("what is $47B in new taxes, 30% of all the top 1% combined, when the budget deficit - deficit mind you, not the budget itself - is $89B per month?"), the few figures came out a couple days later... March's deficit climbed to $197B! I think a far bigger issue to look at is how we spend, not whom to punish for being a bit more successful. We should be looking to those people for advice, so more of us can climb a big higher up the ladder.
Anyway, great chatting with ya! I love interesting conversations and thought-out opinions. :)
Great letter, Keith... and I completely agree with everything you said, especially "we don't hate the rich, we hate the predators." So, then, does the blanket Buffet Rule punish the predators, or all the wealthy, including those who do create jobs, re-invest, or give to charity? It may well discourage all 3.
For the record, I'm not opposed to taxation nor reforming it (sorely needed); I'm just not convinced that the Buffet Rule is necessarily the way forward.
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